Amazon Announces Fire TV Recast DVR for Recording Over-the-Air TV

Amazon has announced Fire TV Recast, a DVR that lets consumers watch, record, and replay free over-the-air TV programming on Fire TV, Echo Show, and on compatible Fire tablet, iOS and Android devices.

Consumers can connect Fire TV Recast to a HDTV antenna (sold separately) for access to free over-the-air TV content, such as live shows, local news, and sports, and from channels such as ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, and The CW with no monthly fees.

“We are focused on making Fire TV an easy way to watch all the entertainment you love, whether it’s through streaming video services, cable and satellite providers, or even local broadcast stations,” said Marc Whitten, VP of Amazon Fire TV, in a statement. “Now with Fire TV Recast, we’ve made it simpler to find, watch, and record live over-the-air TV at home and on your mobile devices.”

Consumers can place Fire TV Recast and a HDTV antenna anywhere in their home, and all compatible devices will automatically connect, giving them access to local over-the-air TV programming, according to Amazon. Fire TV Recast allows consumers to record up to four shows at once, and stream to any two compatible devices at a time, according to the company.

“Advanced wireless technology automatically optimizes the use of bandwidth on your local network, delivering the best HD picture quality possible — even when streaming across multiple devices in a congested Wi-Fi environment,” according to Amazon.

Consumers can also take over-the-air shows on-the-go by using the Fire TV companion app for Fire TV Recast to watch live and recorded content over Wi-Fi or when connected to a cellular network. Mobile streaming for Fire TV Recast is available on all compatible mobile devices with no extra monthly charges or subscription fees.

Fire TV Recast is available for pre-order in the United States and will begin shipping Nov. 14. It is available in two models: a two–tuner model with 500GB of storage that allows consumers to record up to two shows at once and holds up to 75 hours of HD programming for $229.99, and a four–tuner model with 1TB of storage that allows consumers to record up to four shows at once and holds up to 150 hours of HD programming for $279.99. Consumers soon will be able to expand the built-in storage of their Fire TV Recast by connecting an external hard drive to the USB port on the back of the device, according to Amazon.

Didja Live Broadcast App Expands to Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV

Tech company Didja announced the expansion of its live broadcast TV streaming app, LocalBTV, to streaming devices Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV.

The Apple TV and Fire TV versions are available now in the app stores, with Roku to follow soon after, according to the company.

LocalBTV is available as a pilot service in the Los Angeles and Orange County area (SoCalBTV), the San Francisco area (BayAreaBTV) and the Phoenix area (PhoenixBTV), providing a pilot channel list of 30-40 channels of local broadcast TV to viewers on smartphones, PCs and connected TVs at no cost to consumers or to broadcasters, according to a Didja press release.

“With TV stations’ broadcast streams available on mobile devices and connected TVs via LocalBTV, even non-antenna households can easily enjoy local broadcast news and entertainment programming anywhere in the television market,” according to the Didja release. “In addition, local stations and independent channels not available through cable providers or streaming services can now be seen by wider audiences.”

“Didja allows us to stream to devices in an app that contains other local channels. This makes LocalBTV more valuable to the viewer than a single-source app,” said Lynn Londen, owner of Phoenix independent station KAZT, in a statement. “I love seeing people’s enthusiasm when I show them our channels on my phone, and we are looking forward to reaching even more viewers via streaming TV apps.”

According to Didja, more than 20 million U.S. homes watch TV via an antenna and approximately another 10 million homes have no convenient way to watch local broadcast TV, meaning they have neither a traditional cable bundle nor an antenna.

“This expansion to Apple TV, Roku and Fire TV will allow viewers to watch our broadcast partners’ local channels on connected TVs, which is where more and more TV viewing is taking place,” said Jim Long, CEO of Didja, in a statement. “It’s the next logical step as we pursue our mission to help local broadcasters serve their communities, even while TV viewing moves to screens of all sizes.”

The LocalBTV app is available from iTunes, Google Play and on Apple TV and Fire TV.

Irdeto Data Finds Nearly 5 Million Illegal Streamers During UEFA Champions League Knockout Stages

As the football world gears up for the showdown between Liverpool and Real Madrid in this weekend’s UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) Champions League Final, data from Irdeto reveals that a total of 5,100 unique illegal streams were detected redistributing games over the internet during this year’s Champions League knockout stages. Of this total, 2,093 streams were detected across social media channels including Periscope, Facebook and Twitch and are estimated to have reached nearly 5 million (4,893,902) viewers.

“The viewing figures combined with the number of UEFA Champions League streams detected across a variety of channels suggests that more needs to be done to stop the illegal distribution of high profile live European football matches,” according to an Irdeto release.

Web-based streams continue to be the main vehicle for illegal distribution of these matches, with 2,121 web-based streams detected (of the total 5,100 streams), according to the Irdeto data. However, this was closely followed by social media, where potential advertising revenue drives criminals to illegally stream premium sports.

Pirates also took advantage of illicit streaming plugins for Kodi, the popular media player, with 886 streams identified on this platform, according to Irdeto.

“Criminals have targeted premium sports content such as the European Champions League and are earning a fortune from stealing the rights,” said Rory O’Connor, SVP of cybersecurity services at Irdeto. “This makes it crucial for content owners, rights holders and platform owners to work together and enlist technology and proactive services to take down streams in real-time. The criminals who profit from these illegal streams have little regard for their viewers and are exposing them to cybercrime, inappropriate content and malware infection. Also, viewers of illegal content can face criminal penalties if they decide to share content with friends on social media.”

Pirates create professional-looking websites and services designed to fool consumers into thinking they are viewing legitimate content, according to Irdeto. In the case of the Champions League, the team most targeted by illegal streamers was Roma, with 1,476 streams detected for their matches. This was followed by Real Madrid (1,354 streams), Liverpool (1,252 streams) and Bayern Munich (977 streams). The second leg semi-final Roma vs. Liverpool was the most-streamed match, with 405 illegal streams, representing a potential loss of revenue to clubs and the competition.

The viewership of illegal streams on social media followed a similar pattern. However, Real Madrid was the most viewed team, with 2,856,011 viewers of illegal social media streams of their games throughout the knock-out competition. The most illegally viewed match through social media streams was the Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich Semi-Final second leg, which received an estimated 709,393 viewers. Based on the average Pay TV subscription prices in Europe this could represent a loss of more than 14 million Euros per month or 170 million Euros on an annual basis.

Report: Live Streamers Skirting Payment for Programming

As of the third quarter of 2017, 12% of U.S. broadband households were using a live streaming platform such as Facebook Live or Periscope, and more than a third of households live-streaming TV shows or sports indicated they opted for live-streaming because they did not want to pay for access, according to a new report from Parks Associates.

“Over one-quarter stated that they accessed the content via live streaming because the price of the programming was too high,” said Brett Sappington, senior director of research for Parks Associates. “While these figures ultimately represent less than 5% of U.S. broadband households, they are a significant portion of those watching app-based live streams.”

The profile for live streamers is generally younger, with 19% of consumers ages 18-24 engaging in live streaming activity, but live streaming of TV shows and sports skews older, indicating more older viewers might be using these solutions to access illegal streams of content, according to the report, “Pay TV, Passwords, and Piracy.”

“Eight percent of broadband households have used live streaming apps to watch TV shows, while 7% have used live streaming apps to watch sports,” Sappington said. “Some sports franchises and leagues are legitimately live streaming their content, but much of the produced content on these live streaming platforms remains unsanctioned.”

The report identifies trends among content-pirating consumers, details emerging streaming piracy methods, and assesses viable solutions for addressing these piracy methods.

Additional data from the report includes:

  • 18% of Cord Nevers indicate they use the credentials of someone outside their household to access an online video service.
  • Among pay-TV subscribers, only 7% indicate they use IDs and passwords for video services from people who do not live in their household.
  • 14% of Cord Cutters use others’ credentials for online video services, double the rate of use by pay-TV subscribers.
  • 45% of U.S. broadband households are very concerned about downloading a virus or malware when downloading or streaming video.